Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Citizen's Almanac Part II

A few months ago, I wrote about The Citizen’s Almanac, a publication printed by the Office of Citizenship of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).   I mentioned that USCIS tries to promote the importance of U.S. citizenship by giving a copy of the publication to every new citizen.  I stated that The Citizen’s Almanac includes a variety of information on the U.S., such as "Patriotic Anthems and Symbols of the United States", "Fundamental Documents of American Documents" and "Landmark Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court".   Furthermore, I discussed how one of the most important discussions in the publication is that regarding the "inalienable rights" found in the Declaration of Independence.

Today I wish to return to the topic of The Citizen’s Almanac. An important theme that catches the reader’s attention while reading The Citizen’s Almanac is the symbolic importance of  the patriotic songs, the excerpts from historical documents such as founding documents and speeches, and the contribution made by prominent foreign born men and women.  For many Americans, patriotism is something that is unconsciously being learned from a young age. The opportunities that the United States provides for its people is what many around the world covet and will go to drastic measures to obtain but too often native born American citizens take for granted the  opportunities provided. The Citizen’s Almanac provides naturalized citizens with a simple text that promotes patriotism and a sense of belonging. However, along with opportunities, becoming an American citizen brings with it rights and responsibilities.

The responsibilities of an American citizen include:

·         Support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

·         Stay informed of the issues affecting your community

·         Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws. 

·         Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.

·         Participate in your local community

·         Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.

·         Serve on a jury when called upon.

·         Defend the country if the need should arise.

The rights of an American citizen include:

·         Freedom to express yourself.

·         Freedom to worship as you wish.

·         Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.

·         Right to keep and bear arms. 

·         Right to vote in elections for public officials.

·         Right to apply for federal employment.

·         Right to run for elected office.

·         Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

An excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is the last item printed in The Citizen’s Almanac.  It is not within any particular section.  Rather, it stands on its own on the back side of the cover. The location in which the excerpt was printed really catches the eye of the astute reader. It is as if the Office of Citizenship in publishing the publication was making sure that if nothing else throughout the text caught the reader’s attention, then it would make one final effort to make sure that at least thing remains in his mind. It is ironic that after last year’s presidential election the president that was in the spotlight was Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln was the hot topic because residents in approximately thirty states had filed secession petitions with the “We the People Program” on the White House website. After reading the excerpt from Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address one is reminded why Lincoln was such an important figure.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”— Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.
The Citizen's Almanac is a wonderful tool in understanding what it is to be "American". It is available for purchase from U.S. Government Printing Office at bookstore.gpo.gov.

The above information is provided for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.